WWDC - aka Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference - takes place every year in June, and it will happen again in June 2020 but this year it will be different.
On 13 March Apple announced that: "The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”
Many will be relieved that Apple isn't going to cancel WWDC this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, however there will no doubt be some loss of business associated with the change. Apple is going some way to mitigate this with the following promise: "Apple also announced it will commit $1 million to local San Jose organisations to offset associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020’s new online format."
More here: WWDC goes online only, due to coronavirus fears.
What is WWDC
It's an event for developers and therefore it tends to be a software-focused event. You can expect Apple to demonstrate updated versions of the macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS and iPadOS operating systems. This is why the event is so popular with the public: we'll get a teaser of the new features that will soon be added to our iPhones, iPads, Macs and other Apple products.
We also tend to see presentations from third-party developer partners who will talk about how they are updating their software to work with the new platforms.
It's not always just a software event, though; in the past we have seen hardware announcements too. At WWDC 2017 Apple launched the iMac Pro, a new MacBook and MacBook Pro, a new iPad Pro and the HomePod, for example. If you go further back Apple would actually unveil new iPhones at WWDC - such as in 2010 when it revealed the iPhone 4 - but that kind of thing would be a huge surprise these days.
The hardware announcements that Apple makes around the time of WWDC tend to be high-end, professional Macs rather than consumer-oriented products, because the audience for the event tends to be less mainstream.
When is WWDC 2020?
Based on previous years we had expected WWDC to run from 8-12 June 2020. In Apple's press release about the new online-only event it is only referring to it being a June event so we don't know the exact date yet.
It seems likely that the company isn't ready to reveal the date for the keynote at which it would normally demonstrate new software and potentially new hardware products (we will discuss what those might be below). This could be due to uncertainty about whether deadlines will be met for the manufacturing of the new products at the Chinese factories that have been closed due to Coronavirus.
WWDC normally takes place over the course of a full week in early June, kicking off with a keynote address on the Monday at which various Apple execs present the new features coming to the operating systems.
Based on the past few years (outlined below) we had expected WWDC to fall around the 8 June. This date is a little problematic, at least in the UK, because 8 June is a Bank Holiday in 2020 (the May bank holiday has been moved to June to celebrate VE-Day). But the US will not be observing this with a public holiday and it's unlikely that Apple will take this into consideration.
- WWDC 2020: Monday 8 June?
- WWDC 2019: Started Monday 3 June
- WWDC 2018: Monday 4 June
- WWDC 2017: Monday 5 June
- WWDC 2016: Monday 13 June
- WWDC 2015: Monday 8 June
- WWDC 2014: Monday 2 June
- WWDC 2013: Monday 10 June
- WWDC 2012: Monday 11 June
- WWDC 2011: Monday 6 June
- WWDC 2010: Monday 7 June
Why has Apple changed the format for WWDC 2020?
Although Apple doesn't mention it by name, Apple refers to the "current health situation" - this is COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
Apple isn't the only company to make changes due to Coronavirus. Numerous other conferences have been cancelled (or made online-only) for the same reason. Fellow tech giants Microsoft, Facebook and Google have taken this step with various gatherings, and the E3 gaming event, which was scheduled for 9-11 June and would very likely have overlapped with WWDC, has been axed too.
Santa Clara County Public Health, which is Apple's local body, has issued a mandatory order banning public gatherings of 1,000 or more people, which would have made WWDC impossible in its usual form. That order began on 11 March and is initially scheduled to last for three weeks, but may be extended as the outbreak develops.
You can read a more detailed discussion of the situation in Will Apple cancel WWDC?
How do I watch WWDC?
Apple is likely to stream the keynote over the internet so you will be able to watch WWDC on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac and other products.
What will Apple launch at WWDC 2020?
We can confidently state that at WWDC 2020 Apple will tell us about the updates coming to Apple's various operating systems. It is also possible that the event will include new Macs, more information below.
Before we start with our predictions we'll recap on what Apple's done at WWDC over the past few years:
- WWDC 2019: Apple told us about iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. It also unveiled the new Mac Pro and new display.
- WWDC 2018: Apple revealed details of iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. There were no hardware updates at that event.
- WWDC 2017: Apple talked about iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra. We also got our first look at the new iMac Pro which was previewed alongside the launch of new iMacs and an updated MacBook Pro and MacBook.
In terms of software previews at WWDC 2020 we expect the following:
We have more information about the new features coming in iOS 14 here.
Here is what we expect from the next version of macOS here.
We have details of what we expect to see in iPadOS 14 here.
We will also hear about tvOS 14, watchOS 7 and a new version of HomePodOS. Apple may also speak about upcoming changes to its apps such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and iMovie, Music, and more.
Now for the hardware we could see at WWDC 2020:
Some of these new products were expected to arrive at a spring Apple event, but with that unlikely to go ahead due to COVID-19, and with delays in the production line due to factory closures, it looks like we might be waiting until June for those announcements too.
iPhone SE 2
Fans of the SE will be pleased to hear that Apple may soon launch a low-cost replacement for the iPhone SE. Analyst Ming Chi Kuo had suggested that a new iPhone SE based on the iPhone 8 could arrive in spring 2020, but the release of this phone could be delayed by Coronavirus. You can read more about the iPhone SE 2 rumours here.
Apple last renewed the iPad Pro in October 2018, so it's been more than a year. The spring event has often been used as a venue for introducing new iPad models but with there being no spring event in 2020 we could see an announcement at WWDC. For more information about new features in the 2020 iPad Pro read this article.
Apple's said to be gearing up to launch a set of over-ear headphones. Find out more about the rumours surrounding the StudioPods here.
Tag object tracker
There's been evidence for this new product popping up for some time. It seems you will be able to attach the disc to keys, wallets and other important items and track it using the Find My app. Read more about these rumours here: Apple to unveil 'Tag' object tracker
New HomePod or HomePod mini
We are really hoping that Apple will launch a cheaper HomePod to help Apple gain market share in the smart speaker space which is dominated by Amazon and it's lower-priced Echo speakers, such as the £49.99 Echo Dot. Read more about the Mini HomePod and HomePod 2 here.
13in MacBook Pro
We might see this before WWDC in June for this one, but we are hopeful that we will see the new 13in MacBook Pro with a new keyboard design in the spring of 2020.
Apple's MacBooks have been plagued a keyboard issue, which is described here. That issue was addressed with the 16in MacBook Pro and hopefully the 13in MacBook Pro will soon get the same update. Read more about the new MacBook Pro for 2020 here.
New MacBook Air
The MacBook Air should also get that new keyboard. More information about what to expect from the new MacBook Air here.
With a design that dates back more than a decade a change is well overdue for the iMac. We are hoping that 2020 will bring a new iMac with a bigger display (made possible by smaller bezels and a thinner 'chin'). Read more about the 2020 iMac.
If Apple's updating the iMac we could also see an update to the iMac Pro
Apple discontinued the MacBook in 2019, but we don't think it's the last we'll see of the consumer Mac laptop. We believe that Apple has plans for a new Mac that will use an Apple-made processor and potentially combine some of the benefits of the iPad - and maybe even a touch screen. We really hope Apple has something up its sleeve, and we think we could get a first look at this new MacBook at WWDC. Read about the rumours about the new MacBook.